For anyone who has gone through
medical school, you have the experience of working with a cadaver. Anatomy class is the common
rite of passage every first year medical student goes through. For some students, this is a dreaded
experience. For other students, it is
the best part of first year medical school.
All students walk away with first-hand knowledge of the human body. Students learn to do their first incision
without harm to a live patient. Students
experience the process of death, from the biological to the social aspects. Some patients even learn empathy as they
learn the bodily intimacies of the deceased.
Medical schools will commonly provide burial services for these cadavers
after the class is over. Some
institutions will allow the students to meet the family to express gratitude
for the experience. No matter what
institution a medical student comes from, it is an unforgettable experience.
Recently, there has been movement
away from use of cadavers in medical school, for better or for worse. There may be a combination of reasons for
this trend. For example, legislation is New
York just passed banning the use of unclaimed dead as cadavers in medical
schools. Although this legislation
has good intentions of increasing respect for the dead, it will force medical
schools in New York to depend move heavily on private body donations. In addition, there also has been emerging technologies
that are replacing cadavers, such as holograms, computer-simulations, or even
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.